The A's came into Game 5 one game removed from a controversial home run call and a game that got away, hoping to exorcise the demon of Justin Verlander, who blanked them in Game 2, and also did it twice during the 2012 ALDS.
Unfortunately for the A's, Verlander brought his A-game shutdown the Oakland bats yet again, as the Tigers went on to win 3-0 and now advance to the ALCS, in a showdown against the Boston Red Sox.
The pre-game talk was about whether Bartolo Colon should have been the one to get the Game 5 start, or if Gray, who had matched Verlander's performance in Game 2, deserved the nod (which he ultimately got). Of course, none of that mattered as the A's couldn't muster up any runs against Verlander and Benoit.
In last year's Game 5, Verlander struck out 10 batters and gave up only four hits to take the complete-game victory. Tonight, he again struck out 10 and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, before giving up a base hit to Yoenis Cespedes. A two-out single by Josh Reddick would be the only other hit that Verlander would surrender.
Meanwhile, Gray pitched well, minus an inside pitch to Miguel Cabrera, who finally got out of his home run funk, by taking one over the right field wall with a man on base to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. Those two runs would be the only runs Detroit would need, though a third run was added late in the game as an insurance run.
That insurance run almost proved to be a game changer as the A's finally got something going in the ninth inning, after a single by Jed Lowrie was followed up by Cespedes getting plunked to put runners on first and second with two outs. However, Seth Smith was unable to capitalize, as he flied out to Torii Hunter to end the game and end the season for Oakland.
The A's held a 2-1 series lead but just couldn't shut the door on the Tigers, who proved to be the A's kryptonite in the playoffs again.
Till next year.